By: Tyler Bradley
It is crazy to believe that a little over a month ago I was in Guatemala with some amazing people, spreading the Gospel and capturing life in a very raw sense. I have been out of the United States several times, but this was the first trip that had a layered agenda, to document a broken world in hopes to rebuild it, to help people along the way, to show and share love, and to bring back the need for help and share that with others. I thought that was going to be the extent of what happened on this journey, but little did I know, it would change my life in a significant manner.
If someone would come up to me and say, “would you help us shoot a documentary out of the country for a couple of weeks?” Without a doubt I would say yes, however this wasn’t just some ordinary excursion of a documentary, rather this is a sequel if you will. Athentikos’s first documentary “Reparando” weighed heavily on my heart upon watching it. The film gave insight to various serious issues in Guatemala and the need for outside help, because help within is sparse. The documentary showed me how shattered a civilization, yet at the same time how Guatemalans continue to trudge forward and overcome adversity. With that said, that was even more of a push for me to go on this trip to document footage for Athentikos’s second documentary “Becoming Fools”.
I will admit I was scared to go to a country I had never been to, where there would be some culture shock and where I could personally experience some adversity. I went down there blindly, only knowing one person, Bobby Marko. I knew I was going to serve a loving and gracious God, so with that instilled in me, everything was going to be just fine.
Upon my arrival to Guatemala I had a warm welcoming from the Athentikos crew, as well as a lot of Español! I knew I had made the right decision the second I met everyone. From there on I knew I was there to minister, serve and do my job as a camera operator so we can influence the rest of the world and bring this story to them. The one thing I wasn’t counting on was changing my own outlook.
Without stringing this on, I was broken of my own walls and priorities, God showed me a side of life I had never seen before and He wasn’t holding anything back. Visualize this, a child who is barely a teenager, or even younger, who is just now entering the 6th grade. To us we would see them as a youthful being, probably playing a sport after school or doing some sort of extra curricular activity. In the United States we see the youth as a precious generation. Yet if we take this same age and apply it to a child in Guatemala, they are probably living on the street, don’t have a family, hardly any education, are malnourished and addicted to any drug they can get their hands on.
For me, seeing children struggling to live, to look to the future and see no hope, to not know love or God just kills me inside. To experience their lives as we did was so shocking, eye-opening, and at the same time humbling. If I could pick a day that impacted me the most, it would be a day when we were just driving around looking for children selling goods on the streets. We encountered a group of people ranging 10 to about 40 years old. We got out and did some interviews with them, but what became glaringly clear is how these children and adults were coping with their street life, and that was by huffing solvent. It is one thing for me to see a grown man or woman doing drugs, but when you see a 10-year old child huffing solvent just to quench their hunger, it does something to you. And even more so while we were interviewing these children the local police drove by and honked at us to get out of the street, and you can see that they could care less about the children who are addicted to drugs not but 5 feet from us. In a sense, as I am writing this, I am speechless because words cannot describe how hopeless these children and adults are, how this is their release, and that to them this is the best way to live.
If there was one thing that can influence/inspire others to lend a hand and support the street kids of Guatemala, I would say that the severe dependence on drugs is the most motivating factor. Now don’t get me wrong, not all hope is lost, there are some children who, with guidance, find a way out of the addiction, but the lack of guidance and love is what is keeping the other kids on the street.
I think that the documentary “Becoming Fools” will change peoples’ lives and break them in the same way this experience broke me. It will make you not only want to help these street kids, but it will make you re-evaluate your own life. We are so fortunate and have so many resources readily available to us that we live a sheltered life. I was living a sheltered comfortable life myself, living day to day, finding happiness in monetary items, and not praising God the way I should. Yet to see a child smile or a glimpse of hope in their eye because you are there to help them, to show them a way out of the darkness and spread that word to others around the world… that is the meaning of life and that is where true happiness should be found, in knowing you are helping someone else in their life struggle and that because of you and the faith you have, these kids have hope and see a brighter future. I would say “I have been fooled,” that I was a prime example of someone who needed a wake up call and that I had been tricked by a material world. Yet to have become a fool and realize what life really is about is the most rewarding factor of it all.